Police warn of email scam

Messages claim to have compromising video of the recipient

A series of extortion emails has caught the attention of the Czech Police. People who receive the messages should not pay, according to the police, as the threats made are empty.

The emails generally demand $250, or about Kč 5,450, and threaten to release compromising information or web photos about the recipient if the payment is not made. The messages are not specific to the Czech Republic.

“Recently, waves of threatening emails have been spreading, the content of which varies. This phenomenon has occurred in a large number of countries around the world and in various language permutations,” Police Colonel Jaroslav Ibehej of the Organized Crime Center (NCOZ SKPV) said in a statement.

“The writers tell the recipients that they have received delicate and sensitive information via their webcam. Following is the threat of publishing the user information and instructions to pay $250 in bitcoins within 48 hours (in this particular wave),” he added.

“The senders of these emails do not actually have any data. They hope, however, that the addressee will believe this claim and send the amount requested,” he concluded.

The Czech Police, which has been tracking the massive wave of extortion attempts, warns all email users to not open suspicious emails but to delete them or mark them as spam. Also, people should not respond to those or similar emails, and not pay anything.

If payment has already been made, report the matter immediately to the Police of the Czech Republic, Colonel Ibehej said.

Cybersecurity experts, however, warn that recipients should change their passwords. Some emails do contain the actual password used by the recipient. These have been linked to data breaches.

The senders of these emails, though, have not installed malware on your computer capable of making videos of the user.

One variation of the email claims that the recipient was videotaped during a recent visit to a porn website, for example.

There are security flaws with web cameras, though, and some installed programs can access the camera without the user’s knowledge. One way to prevent people from remotely using the camera is simply to cover it with a piece of tape.

Users should also have a software installed to prevent malware and viruses not only on desktops and laptops but also on phones. Programs and attachments sent via email or social media should be approached with caution if they are not expected or come from people who have not been in contact in a long time.

Also users should not use the same password for multiple websites, and change passwords often.

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